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Hug a transit cop today

Well, OK, maybe you you shouldn't hug him/her, lest your friendly gesture be misconstrued as an attempt to go for their gun. But next time you see one, say hello and thanks for a job well-done.

After writing about smoking on the platform being banned (again), I heard from one of Chicago's finest via email:

"I'm a Gang Officer [for the Chicago Police Dept.] and work the trains in plainclothes every week on one of my off days. Sometimes people get pissed when we write them a ticket for smoking on the platform or drinking on the trains, and that's just part of the job.

"On the other hand, when we get a guy with a backpack full of stolen wallets or a guy grabbing Ipod's after a two-block-long chase through slippery slush, they rarely even say thanks. All in all, it's a great job and I'm glad to have it. I just hope to hear from someone now and again, "thanks for being around."

Tis the season folks to give thanks and spread good cheer. Cops are people too, and all people need to hear an encouraging word every now and then.

So let's give it. And not just to cops. Say hi and thanks to the customer service agent, and the janitor spreading sand on the platform, and the motorman who opened the door for you. And to your neighbor on the train who needs a seat because she's pregnant, or on crutches or has kids with him.


Wow, is it possible for someone to be so used to being catered to, so occupied with their own satisfaction that they don't offer profuse thanks to someone who's just retrieved their property after much effort? Very sad.


I never refuse an opportunity to say thank you for something, even, as you all know by riding the CTA, if the service agent is rude. I think I have it on auto pilot in my brain.

Most of the time when I say good morning to a CTA employee or say thank you, they just look at me (or stare into space) and growl.

One of these days, I'm gonna growl back.

I know all to well. I was raised to ALWAYS say "please" and "thank you" no matter what. I say "thank you" to any and everyone who does anything from bagging my groceries to simply moving out of the way when I ask or even if I don't ask. I often get blank stares and weird looks too...I guess it's not *normal* to be polite anymore?!?

That's one of the strange things, when I lived in seattle everyone said thank you to the bus driver as they got off, when I do it here I get a funny look

I've been sneered at by too many station employees ... now I just say hi to the handful who aren't rude. They are noticeably nicer along the Brown Line. I guess if I worked all day in a dripping Red Line station that smelled like piss, I'd be unmotivated too.

I almost always say hello and thank you to the bus drivers. I usually ride the Clark and the horribly off-schedule Damen bus ... so I'm not a weekday rush hour bus rider. Sometimes (maybe a quarter of the time) I get either nothing or just a nod or an "uh huh." But c'mon ... what are they supposed to do? They deal with the public all day. That includes the crazies ... I usually see one crazy for every 2 bus rides I take. Sometimes just the ritual mutual acknowledgement between me and the driver is all that's called for. Otherwise you're just expecting what I call "fake nice," which in my opinion is worse than the gruff "mmmrrph."

On transit cops, anyone who's not a complete piece of crap would thank a cop who just rescued their belongings. I've never knowingly "seen" a transit cop on the CTA, so I have been unable to thank any. I've never even seen a uniformed cop on the CTA for that matter, which is why this blog has so many people writing in with their colorful anecdotes of lawlessness.

Can your plainclothes source give us any idea how many cops are even on the trains at any given time?

I don't talk to subway station attendants often, but they're usually hiding in their little boxes and there's not much reason to seek them out. The guys at the Brown line stations are normally pretty pleasant. And bus drivers are generally at least not rude, but probably tired of talking to people all day. At least that's been my experience.

I don't think that any of us who say "thank you" or "good morning" to drivers and attendants are expecting an excited response. It's just funny to me how many times I get a RUDE response to politeness. It takes just as much effort and time to give a polite response as it does a rude one. Even just a smile and/or nod of the head is better than the "evil eye" or "rolling eyes" I usually get.

While I always thank those who show me the slightest courtesy or provide any service without obviously begrudging my very existence, I have to say that I never even consider greeting customer assistants unless they initiate the pleasantries. This is something that virtually never happens, even when they are basically aimlessly milling about the stationhouse.

Sometimes I will say hello or thank you to a bus driver, since there have been several occasions when a driver has been thoughtful enough to do the same. In fact, while I've run into my fair share of curt, even aggressive bus drivers, it amazes me that there are a fair number of drivers that manage to be far more congenial than the CAs even though they have a far more difficult job, for which they aren't very well paid.

For that matter, I've noticed more El motormen lately who are adding their own, personalized announcements to the automated ones, wishing riders to have a nice day, announcing the time and so on.

I was watching a film set in the 20's over the weekend, and couldn't help but wish everyone could habitually tip their hats to one another when passing on the street, as people did in the film. Even though few people wear hats anymore. Even though it might have only been a mere movie invention. It'd still be nice.

On another note, am I the only person excited by the prospect of a new El stop?

I don't know why, but I'm fascinated by any new rail infrastructure, proposed or real. (Being a fan of both maps and trains, even proposals |link|link| make me feel like a kid...)

While I'm sceptical of the Circle Line for example, part of me wants to see it built just because it would be like revealing a whole new part of the city. Even though I've driven through all of those areas before, something about jetting (or crawling, depending on the stretch of track...) through Chicago a couple stories up presents a different reality than anything else.

Anyway, that reminds me that I haven't ridden the orange line in a while...

How are we supposed to know which ones are the plainclothes cops? Should I just start hugging everyone on the platform?

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